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Basketball Tournament Proceeds to Send Students to Pine Forge

Story by Taashi Rowe
Published 9/20/2011

The basketball team from the First church of Coatesville, Pa., was declared the winner in the inaugural David Kelly Scholarship Tournament. Photo by Gerald Evans Photography

The young men and women running up and down the basketball court at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Md., are having a blast. At ages 11-13 none are quite ready for the NBA, but as they dribble, shoot and score baskets, these participants in the first David Kelly Scholarship Tournament, are making a difference that will go far beyond this tournament. The $2,500 raised from this event, will help send young people to Allegheny East Conference’s (AEC) Pine Forge Academy (PFA) in Pine Forge, Pa.

Teams from AEC’s First church of Coatesville, Pa.; Dupont Park church in Washington, D.C.; Capitol Hill church (also in D.C.); Bladensburg (Md.) church; and Potomac Conference’s Community Praise Center in Alexandria, Va.; and Seabrook church in Lanham, Md.; are playing to win. The six teams battle it out, and after 10 games, the Coatesville church’s basketball team emerges victorious over the Seabrook church.

“We are just trying to send kids to Pine Forge,” Andrew McNeil Jr., says earnestly. A member of the Coatesville church, who helped found the tournament, he says he felt fortunate to have had access to a Seventh-day Adventist education. Now he and his friends want to give that same gift to children whose parents cannot afford to do the same. “It’s also an outreach effort,” he adds. “We want to send kids to Pine Forge who aren’t Adventists and introduce them to the church.”

McNeil, who is a father, says while he realizes a private school education can be expensive, he is not encouraged by the state of public schools. “I attended PFA and we had more than faith in common … we formed lifelong friendships,” he said. “We are giving back with the hope that it will impress others to give back to Adventist education in their own ways.”

The tournament is named for the late David Kelly, McNeil’s classmate who was a member of the Class of 1986 and an avid basketball player. Reggie Moore, who served as a tournament referee along with four other Pine Forge alumni, says he played basketball with the tournament’s namesake at PFA. “He played two years in public school. [When he came to] Pine forge, he mentored a lot of us. He was a good friend of mine,” he says.

While Moore said Kelly did a lot for Pine Forge’s basketball program, he wants the young participants to realize that Kelly’s prowess extended beyond the basketball court to academics as he graduated with a 3.9 GPA.

Clarence Mosely, Dupont Park’s church’s athletic director said he was happy to support the cause of Adventist education. However, the bonus for him was that the game “allows our kids to come together, form friendships and bonds and learn about the sport.”

Sandy Hayden, who was visiting from St. Petersburg, Fla., was happy to see her grandkids participate. “It’s events like this that keep our young people focused on trying to excel spiritually, mentally and physically,” she says.

“I was excited and nervous but we played [well],” shares Dominique Allen, who played on the Community Praise Center team.

According to McNeil, plans are already in the works for the next David Kelly Scholarship Tournament. For more information about the tournament, call McNeil at (610) 301-4031.To make a donation to The David Kelly Memorial Fund, make checks out to "Life Long Health," a nonprofit 501c(3) community-based organization backing the tournament. Checks can be sent to: 

Lifelong Health
P.O. Box 33757
Washington, D.C. 20033